Since 1975, all vehicles sold in the United States are required to come equipped with a catalytic converter. Theoretically, a vehicle could operate without it, but it has a very important role to play in reducing vehicle emissions. Because the converter is a required piece of equipment, you should be able to find them for sale from auto parts retailers, both online and in brick-and-mortar locations. However, it is important to find the right converter for your vehicle.
What Does a Converter Do?
What is a catalytic converter? It is a part of the exhaust system on your vehicle. As the engine burns fuel, it produces a lot of harmful gases. Hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides combine with water vapor in the atmosphere to produce smog. Carbon monoxide is a deadly poison. A catalytic converter contains substances that produce a chemical reaction when they come in contact with these harmful compounds. The reaction breaks them up into less hazardous chemical gases. As a result of the reaction, nitrogen oxides are broken up into harmless oxygen and nitrogen molecules. Hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide break down into water and carbon dioxide.
It should be noted that having a catalytic converter does not make your car more environmentally friendly. Excessive carbon dioxide in the environment still contributes to climate change. However, it is a less immediately harmful substance as it cannot kill you merely by breathing it in, the way carbon monoxide can.
Finding The Right Converter For Your Catalytic
The materials used in catalytic converters to produce chemical reactions are all rare metals, such as platinum, palladium, and rhodium. Because it is made out of rare metals, a catalytic converter is an expensive part. Therefore, you want to be sure that the converter you purchase is appropriate for your vehicle. Here are some things to look for in a catalytic converter:
- Before purchasing a converter, you need to choose between a universal fit and direct fit configuration. A universal fit converter may require welding or cutting before it can be installed on your vehicle. A direct fit converter is tailored to your specific application and works like the original equipment from the manufacturer.
- Once you have decided on the configuration, you need to narrow down the choices to those designed to fit your vehicle. Fortunately, there are online tools available to make this easier by allowing you to search by your vehicle’s make, model, and year.
- You also have to choose a converter that meets the emissions standards for the state where you live. Most states have adopted the federal standards established by the Environmental Protection Agency. However, a handful of states, including California, Maine, Colorado, and New York, have adopted stricter standards. This means that you have to choose a catalytic converter that meets low emission vehicle standards if you live and drive in one of these states.
Finding catalytic converters isn’t hard. You should be able to locate them at any car parts retailer. What can be more of a challenge is finding a converter that fits your vehicle and meets applicable emissions standards. When in doubt, you should consult a knowledgeable expert to help you choose the right catalytic converter for your vehicle.